KLM Halts Long-haul Flights Due to New COVID-19 Testing Rule in the Netherlands

KLM plane

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is shutting down all long-haul flights to the Netherlands starting Friday due to new COVID-19 restrictions by the Dutch government, according to reports.

The decision comes after the Netherlands on Wednesday announced all passengers traveling to the country by air or sea from "high-risk areas" would have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 rapid test within four hours of their departure. The rule also applies to those traveling to the Dutch Caribbean as well, including the islands of Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten.

This new testing requirement, which goes into effect on Jan. 23, is in addition to the country's mandate that travelers have a negative PCR test from within 72 hours of their arrival. Travelers must then also either self-quarantine for 10 days or test-out of isolation after five days.

"Since rapid test facilities are not available near all ports and airports, the government expects that the double-test requirement will reduce the amount of travel to the Netherlands," the government wrote in its guidance, adding, "The aim of the new measures is to reduce the current infection rate, delay the spread of the original and new coronavirus variants and prevent the new variants' entry into the Netherlands as much as possible."

The government has also banned flights from the United Kingdom, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. KLM previously had routes to several of those countries.

As a result, KLM has determined the new regulations make flying 270 of its weekly long-haul flights untenable, Reuters reported.

The news comes weeks after KLM partnered with Delta Air Lines on a COVID-19 testing program that would have allowed eligible travelers to skip the Netherlands' quarantine.

KLM isn't the only airline nixing their long-haul routes. Last week, Norwegian Air said financial stress from the pandemic forced it to scrap its signature low-cost long-haul flights and only focus on domestic and European routes.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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